By Katherine Baker, Courier & Press, March 7, 2017 –
For the past three years, Youth First has been providing Dialectical Behavioral Training (DBT) to its social workers. The concepts of mindfulness and meditation, which are part of DBT were new to me.
We are busy people with lots of responsibilities. Most of us rarely take time for ourselves or our relationships.
The concepts of mindfulness and meditation can be intimidating. After practicing DBT skills, however, I clearly see the benefits and how it can help you feel more peaceful and in control.
Mindfulness involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them. Unfortunately, our society is prone to making judgments.
Our brains move from topic to topic. We ignore and push feelings away. We find it difficult to focus and concentrate. Learning how to be mindful and “in the moment” can reduce the stress in your life, improve relationships, and help sharpen your concentration and focus.
One way to begin a mindfulness practice is to find a quiet place, sit in a chair or on the floor, take a few deep breaths, close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath for two minutes. It sounds easy, but you may find your mind wandering. If this happens, simply return your thoughts back to your breath.
Practice this daily and gradually work up to 10 minutes. Relax and let your body and mind work together.
According to the website Greater Good (http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition), mindfulness is defined as maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment.
Some of the potential benefits of mindfulness listed in this article include the following:
- Mindfulness is good for our bodies. Practicing mindfulness and meditation boosts our immune system’s ability to fight off illness.
- Mindfulness is good for our minds. Several studies have found that mindfulness increases positive emotions while reducing negative emotions and stress.
- Mindfulness helps us focus. Studies suggest that mindfulness helps us tune out distractions and improves our memory and attention skills.
- Mindfulness enhances relationships. It helps people feel more accepting of and closer to one another.
- Mindfulness is good for parents and parents-to-be. Studies suggest it may reduce pregnancy-related anxiety, stress and depression in expectant parents.
- Mindfulness helps schools. There’s scientific evidence that teaching mindfulness in the classroom reduces behavior problems and aggression among students and improves their happiness levels and ability to pay attention.
- Mindfulness helps health care professionals cope with stress, connect with their patients and improve their general quality of life. It also helps mental health professionals by reducing negative emotions and anxiety and increasing their positive emotions and feelings of self-compassion.
- Mindfulness helps veterans. Studies suggest it can reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath of war.
- Mindfulness fights obesity. Practicing “mindful eating” encourages healthier eating habits, helps people lose weight and helps them savor the food they eat.
Instead of worrying about what may happen, try mindfulness and meditation and be fully present. You will be amazed at how quickly your stress levels decrease.